Experiencing Google Turbulence?

As usual, this past week has had SEOs on edge as there was speculation of some turbulent search engine results. With Mozcast forecasting stormy weather and some webmasters reporting an increase in rankings, it was hard to tell if an official update had indeed rolled out. But as Matt Cutts revealed, this wasn’t actually a Google Panda update.

This slight update was meant to return diversity of domains in search result. Previously for example, some users complained as they searched for a term like “vacation in England”, search results returned contained links that were nearly all from the same domain. Check out an example here.

To be fair to users and businesses, it makes sense that this diversity update has rolled out. But it’s a shame that it couldn’t have happened sooner. Reported upticks in traffic or search queries could be explained as more sites are showing up on the first page of results that were previously dominated by major players. Bigger brands were more likely to receive these favorable search results, not to mention that it helped them when Google is/was experimenting with displaying 7 results per page instead of 10. On the other hand, businesses who were benefiting from less-diversified results could not be suffering from more competition.

It’s been 145 days and counting since Penguin first rolled out and the second update is definitely welcomed by some, who have been working fervently to regain their rankings. However, the next update is sure to be feared by most. We’ll just have to wait and see!

How Do Google Freshness Updates Affect SEO?

What Is It?
Since the end of last year, Google’s Freshness updates have been been affecting about 35% of searches. To get a better idea of how this works, take a look at Bruce Clay’s in depth illustration of exactly how freshness affects SERPs. Basically, as Google crawls pages to index them, it will also search for “fresh attributes” and assign them a score. This value is a contributing factor when search results are displayed. The general idea is that fresh content is more useful than old, stale content.

How to Optimize
Not surprisingly, Google has a variety of ways of determining the value of freshness including time spent on page, popular topics and changes in anchor text. In many ways, this algorithm update has changed online marketing priorities. Instead of pushing for addition of more content and more keywords, the focus should be on consistently updating the same relevant web pages with useful information. Since all these factors are available online, it’s best to review them regularly to see how you can utilize them when updating your web pages.

Why Freshness?
In the end, Google aims to improve the user experience. As internet marketing firms work with businesses to improve their strategies, users will surely benefit. These updates will help display more relevant and recent search results that will make for better searching!

Are You Obsessed with Keyword Rankings?

obsessed with seo rankingsobsessed – past participle, past tense of ob·sess (Verb)
Verb: Preoccupy or fill the mind of (someone) continually, intrusively, and to a troubling extent: “he was obsessed with thoughts of suicide”.

If this word best describes your relationship with your keywords, there’s a big problem. Whether you’re dealing with your own search rankings or clients’, it’s important to remember that an effective SEO campaign means more than just where you rank.

Instead of asking the most obvious questions like “How can I rank #1 and how long will it take?”, you should be taking a deeper look and asking “How can useful SEO content help me achieve higher rankings for keywords that my customers are actually looking for?” Search engine ranking algorithms, competitors, your past work being indexed – these are all things that make search rankings fluctuate on a daily basis. This is why you can be #1 for a term one day and #3 for the same term the next.

Although we would all like to capture that much coveted spot, the organic optimization game doesn’t quite work that way. And there are new factors emerging every day, some that we have little control over. Take Google’s new Social Search, for example. Now social media connections have a greater impact on how search results are personalized depending on your friends’ searches, interests and location. With all these varying factors, this means that search rankings can and will vary for each different person.

Ranking well is still an important part of SEO, but being overwhelmed with the details is something that can truly drive you insane. For now, it’s more about practicing patience and building up your site with credible and useful information so that you can keep visitors onsite. Working on these social aspects with a complementary plan will also build your business’ trustworthiness so that potential customers will keep your brand in mind for a time when they do need your product/service. As you can see, nowadays search engine optimization has emerged as something much more than just ranking #1 for some keyword terms. There is MUCH more too it!

Take a look at some of our free whitepapers to see if you can get any new ideas for your search campaigns.